Intended for healthcare professionals


Should healthcare workers have the swine flu vaccine?

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 26 August 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3398
  1. Rachel Jordan, lecturer and NIHR research fellow1,
  2. Andrew Hayward, senior lecturer2
  1. 1Unit of Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Public Health Building, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT
  2. 2University College of London Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Department of Infection and Population Health, Royal Free Campus, London NW3 2PF
  1. r.e.jordan{at}

    Evidence from decades of seasonal vaccination suggests likely benefits and low risk of adverse events

    The first batch of vaccine for the influenza A/H1N1 2009 “swine flu” pandemic should be ready and licensed by October,1 and the United Kingdom’s government has ordered enough vaccine for each person to receive two doses. Because vaccine production will take several months to complete, a prioritisation plan has just been announced, and frontline healthcare workers will be among the first to be offered vaccination. The potential benefits of influenza vaccination for healthcare workers are threefold—personal protection, protection of patients, and reduction of absenteeism. There is good evidence that among healthcare workers a well matched seasonal vaccine is 85-90% effective in preventing serologically confirmed influenza,2 that it indirectly protects elderly patients in some settings,3 that it may reduce absenteeism, and that it has limited and mild adverse effects.4 Despite this, uptake of seasonal flu vaccine among healthcare workers has consistently been low (in winter 2008-9 only 16.5% of healthcare workers in England received the vaccine).5 So will uptake be any …

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